Hockey Asia Cup: Pakistan to face Japan tomorrow

Pakistan on Wednesday pulled off an impressive 7-0 triumph against hosts Bangladesh in the first match of the Asia Cup at Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium in Dhaka.

He further said that the team is looking forward to carry their winning momentum in the second fixture against Japan, who were beaten 5-1 by India in their opening match.

"We did not play a good match against Pakistan and made a lot of mistakes that led them to score so many goals". India's counter attacking was again sublime in the 22nd minute as forward Lalit Upadhyay beautifully brought down a long ball, made a turn and shot at the Japanese goal to give the lead to Asia's number one ranked team.

The Asia Cup will be the beginning of new phase in Indian hockey as it would be newly-appointed coach Sjoerd Marijne's first test post the sacking of Roelant Oltmans.

"We matched them until half-time, but after that, my players did not have the fitness to compete", said Aikman. While the Indian attacking force of SV Sunil, Lalit Upadhyay, Ramandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh looked threatening, the young Harmanpreet Singh not only held the defence together but was also a force to reckon with while taking penalty corners, converting two set pieces.

"I think Sardar is very good in that position. This is working well for us", expressed skipper Manpreet on his compatriot's role as a freeman defender.

"If we are able to do that (stick to our plans), then I don't see why we should not win the match", added a confident Marijne who is on his first major tournament with the Indian men's team.

Last edition's runner-up India, led by midfielder Manpreet Singh, will be eyeing a ideal start to their campaign in Pool A which also features arch-rivals Pakistan and hosts Bangladesh. "We can never take Japan to be an easy team", the India skipper said.

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Vanessa Coleman

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